Teaching dynasties - Northern lights

22nd August 2008 at 01:00
The Keogh family have come into teaching from many directions, but they all love it, says Stephen Manning

PAUL

My two older brothers and I followed our dad into teaching, though it wasn't a foregone conclusion when we were younger. But teaching has always been the family business. Our aunt is a teacher, as are three cousins on our mum's side. And my wife Julie teaches at school with me.

My dad was a headteacher at a secondary modern. We all love the film Goodbye, Mr Chips and in a way identify with the teacher who stays put in one school for a long time and watches children develop, rather than moving around a lot. I've been at my school for 20 years.

Dad felt that school was a haven for many children - their lives outside could be chaotic, so it was crucial that they enjoy it. My brother Pete, the first of us to follow suit, carried this on. I spent a day watching him teach English at his first school, The Blue Coat School in Oldham, while I was at university, and it inspired me to take it up myself. He would get one class to compose raps, then read The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot with his sixth form, then take a drama lesson where the pupils would lay on the floor being plants. They loved it.

I got an MBE for services to education in 2004 and took my dad with me to Buckingham Palace when I was presented with it by the Queen. I'm glad he was there. Before he was a teacher he was a guardsman at Windsor Castle. He was so inspiring and hard-working, and I felt he should have received the award instead of me.

Paul Keogh, 44, is head of languages and an Advanced Skills Teacher at King James's School in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. He was named secondary teacher of the year in 2003's Teaching Awards and was awarded the MBE for services to education in 2004

TIM

When I left school I went to work in a bank. I suppose it was my way of trying to be my own man. As well as my dad and brother, a lot of the friends I played cricket with were teachers, so I was surrounded.

My first school in Bolton, when I was 27, was very poor, like the school in the film Kes, which is a great influence on all of us. The Colin Welland character, the teacher who cares about his pupils' interests - that's a model of how I like to be at school, to this day.

I think a teacher has to be a "people person" and that's something we all have.

My dad was an old-fashioned head who walked the corridors and knew every child by name. I don't think modern heads do that as much, they're more office-based, so I don't think I'd want to be a head now.

Tim Keogh, 49, is head of languages at St Damian's Roman Catholic Science College in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire

PETE

I always loved reading, writing and anything to do with language, but I hated school. It seemed too restrictive and routine. I was adamant I would go against the family trade, as it were, but I got interested when I found out more about it from a friend.

I enjoyed talking to the pupils when I was on my teacher training - it wasn't like work at all. To me, that's what education is - having a conversation, trying to work things out and coming to conclusions about the world.

I was pleased that my brothers followed me into teaching - we had something in common that we all enjoyed. We have different takes on teaching: my PhD was a critique of changes in education since the early Nineties, arguing that marketisation, the creation of winners and losers, is to education's detriment and counter to the values we grew up with. So mine's a more politicised view, critical though not cynical. Tim's perhaps more down-to-earth, while Paul has a more optimistic view, he is keen to celebrate the good things in education, so in that sense he's the one who most takes after our dad.

Pete Keogh, 48, teaches English at King Edward VI sixth form college in Nuneaton

TOM

Obviously it's tempting to want to advise them and pass on your experience, but I think it's better that they have learnt for themselves and made their own way. They might ask for the odd bit of advice, such as how to deal with staff. What I've always said is important is to be happy and normal with children. A lot of teachers start by shouting, and I think that's not the way

Tom Keogh, 78, was headteacher at Our Lady's Roman Catholic High School in Oldham, before retiring in 1992. His teaching career spanned more than 38 years.

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